Volatile conditions in the South East were the focus of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) latest residential housing survey. While house prices in the North continued to climb, it was found that the South East suffered towards the end of last year.
A total of 37% more chartered surveyors recorded a fall in prices in the South East against those reporting rises. Ian Perry, national housing spokesman at RICS, said: ‘The market slowdown in the South East reflects the fact that the rate of rises earlier this year was unsustainable and buyers have become increasingly reluctant to pay the asking prices. This clearly shows that, at the moment, sellers have to price realistically to achieve sales.’
The capital was worst hit towards the end of last year, with 56% more chartered surveyors in London observing a fall in prices against those reporting rises.
Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at Charcol, believes this is a trend that will continue into 2002. He said: ‘Volatility within London will continue into the early part of this year. The top end of the market is likely to remain fragile, this is very much influenced by what is happening globally and also because city bonuses have been cut this year.
‘The lower priced properties are influenced by average earners and I think that prices in London up to £0.5m will be OK, but may not perform as well as areas outside of the city.’
In contrast, the North continued to yield increases. Here 40% more surveyors reported rises in house prices as opposed to falls.
Looking towards the future, RICS is optimistic that the housing market will continue to be strong. Perry said: ‘Chartered surveyors are confident that the overall market will continue to be positive in the coming year. The prospect of a healthy economy and continued low interest rates, on top of strong signs of interest from potential buyers, suggest 2002 will continue the trend towards a more robust market, even though signs are that it will be subdued in the early part of the new year.’